Answer: Yes, beginning May 25, 2005, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin to accept additional petitions for H-2B workers as required by the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005.
Question: Who will benefit from this Act?
Answer: The Act allows USCIS to accept filings beginning May 25, 2005 for two types of H-2B workers seeking work start dates as early as immediately: 1. For fiscal year 2005: Approximately 35,000 workers, who are new H-2B workers or who are not certified as returning workers, seeking work start dates before October 1, 2005.
2. For FY 2005 and 2006: All “returning workers,” meaning workers who counted against the H-2B annual numerical limit of 66,000 during any one of the three fiscal years preceding the fiscal year of the requested start date. This means: In a petition for a work start date before October 1, 2005 (FY 2005), the worker must have been previously approved for an H-2B work start date between October 1, 2001 and September 30, 2004. In a petition for a work start date on or after October 1, 2005 (FY 2006), the worker must have been previously approved for an H-2B work start date between October 1, 2002 and September 30, 2005. If a petition was approved only for “extension of stay” in H-2B status, or only for change or addition of employers or terms of employment, the worker was not counted against the numerical limit at that time and, therefore, that particular approval cannot in itself result in the worker being considered a “returning worker” in a new petition. Any worker not certified as a “returning worker” will be subject to the numerical limitation for the relevant fiscal year.
Question: What is needed to file for the H-2B’s under this Act?
Answer: Petition forms and processing will follow current rules, with these additional requirements for “returning workers:” The petition must include a certification from the petitioner (employer) signed by the same person who signed the Form I-129 stating, “As a supplement to the certification made on the attached Form I-129, I further certify that the workers listed below have entered the United States in H-2B status or changed to H-2B status during one of the last three fiscal years.” The list must set forth the full name of the worker. If the petition seeks change of status of the worker within the United States, it must include evidence of previous H-2B admissions, such as a visa or a copy of I-94 admission document.
A single petition may benefit more than one worker, including unnamed workers in “special filing situations” for business reasons. However, any returning workers must be listed in a certification as described above. For multiple named workers, including returning workers, “Attachment 1” to Form I-129 must be included and completed.
A petition approval notice will list any returning workers, who must be prepared to show to the U.S. consulate (when requesting an H-2B visa) or CBP port inspector (if visa exempt) proof of the worker’s previous H-2B admissions, such as a visa or a copy of I-94 admission document. The State Department will confirm prior visas through its electronic system, and that alone may be sufficient, but failure to show these documents may result in denial of visa or admission.
Thus, because of the limited number of H-2B’s, you should file right away.